Outcome, following significant delays in initial surgery, of ballistic femoral fractures managed without internal or external fixation

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2009 Jan;91(1):97-101. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.91B1.21106.


We reviewed the clinical details and radiographs of 52 patients with ballistic fractures of the femur admitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross Hospital in Kenya (Lopiding), who had sustained injuries in neighbouring Sudan. In all cases there had been a significant delay in the initial surgery (> 24 hours), and all patients were managed without stabilisation of the fracture by internal or external fixation. Of the 52 patients, three required an amputation for persisting infection of the fracture site despite multiple debridements. A further patient was treated by an excision arthroplasty of the hip, but this was carried out at the initial operation as a part of the required debridement. All of the remaining 48 fractures healed. Four patients needed permanent shoe adaptation because of limb shortening of functional significance. Although we do not advocate delaying treatment or using traction instead of internal or external fixation, we have demonstrated that open femoral fractures can heal despite limited resources.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Debridement / standards*
  • Female
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Femoral Fractures / surgery*
  • Fracture Healing / physiology*
  • Fractures, Open / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Open / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sudan
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery*
  • Young Adult